My father used to tell me that the stones in the small circle at the edge of the farm were the tolls that Gandalf turned to stone in Bilbo’s great adventure, and that the distant peaks were really the Misty Mountains. I spent much of my youth tromping around looking for the troll’s hidden gold and running off to find Rivendell. I am sure that this is what sparked my wanderlust.
I left home as soon as I was old enough and didn’t look back. “The road goes ever on” I would say as I started each new journey. I never tired of seeing a new vista, or an old one from a new angle. The world is a magical place and I always have expected to discover a hidden valley were the elves still lived.
I once tried to settle down and I had a family, but when the road called, I was forced to leave them behind.
But my bones grew wary and I needed to stop for a rest. I pulled up to the old farm house after years of being pulled along by the Road.
Father was distant, not always recognizing me. He would look up and smile, but call me by my uncle’s name. There was a fog hiding the mountains.
One day I sat by his bed and read the Hobbit out loud to him. His eyes lit up and the father I knew came home in his head. He knew me and called me by my name.
After several days, we reached the part about the trolls and, with a mischievous glint in his eye, he said, “You know that old stone circle at the edge of the farm?”
“Yes, Father, I do,” I said.
“I’m sure I told you a thousand times by now that those were the very trolls you are now reading about.”
“Yes Father, you did.”
“I’ve always wanted to meet Elrond, to talk gardening with Sam and have a joke with Bilbo. I’ve wanted to look upon the beauty of Galadriel and discuss my fears with Frodo.”
He looked at me with bright, present eyes. “And maybe I will. I have a feeling I will soon sail away for Valinor.”
“Father, don’t say such things!” I said. “You will be here with me for a long time.”
He shook his head, but then said, “Read on. We’ll soon be in Rivendell in the story.”
So I read on.
After we finished the story, I dug out The Lord of the Rings, but before the long expected party was over he fell sick. He quickly grew worse and I knew that he was right, that the end was near.
The last words he said to me were, “I’m now on the journey to the Grey Havens. I will see you when it is your turn to cross.”
I became more settled on the farm and my own son came to live with me. I told him about the trolls and mountains, but he would have none of it. When he was old enough, he left for the distant city.
These days I am content once again to wonder only on my farm and the surrounding villages. I often stop at the stone circle and watch the distant peaks, dreaming that Elrond was really there. But there are some days that my bones ache and I can feel the pull of the distant sea and know that it will eventually be my turn to go to the Havens and set sail for distant Valinor. But for now, I am content with staying in my little farm and dream of the distant mountains.
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